He was very specific on what he would be eating for his last meal. Lamb chops, chopped salad, and my baked macaroni and cheese. He stressed that I not leave off the bread crumb topping (as Levi doesn’t like it). I made the crumbs by throwing a gluten free Udi’s bagel in the food processor. After pulverizing the bread to fine crumbs, I toasted them in the oven for about 7 minutes. What ever was left over, I threw in the freezer for future use.
He ate his meal with gusto and when all the dishes were washed and put away, he said to me, “I am going to miss you the most, mom”. And then he gave me a huge hug and about 30 kisses. With a thank you like that, I am going to take dinner requests way more often.
The Ultimate Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon
10 ounces brown rice pasta (I used fusilli)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus more to grease the pan)
3/4 cup whole, organic milk
3/4 cup organic, heavy cream
4 slices bacon
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
a pinch of nutmeg
1 1/2 cups grated raw white cheddar cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for the top)
1 1/4 cup grated fontina cheese
1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
• preheat oven to 350*.
• butter a 7 x 10″ baking dish. place baking dish on a parchment lined baking sheet.
• bring a large stock pot of water to boil. salt water and boil pasta for 7 minutes. drain, add 1 tablespoon butter and set aside.
• place bacon in a cast iron skillet and cook until slightly crispy. drain on paper towels. when cool enough to touch, rough chop and set aside.
• cut bread of your choice into 1 inch cubes. toss cubes into a small mini quisinart and grind to fine crumbs. place on a small baking sheet and toast in the oven for 7 minutes. set aside.
• combine whole milk and heavy cream in a small, heavy duty saucepan and warm over medium heat (don’t boil). add two tablespoons of butter, Celtic sea salt, white pepper, and nutmeg.
• when warm to the touch add 1 1/4 cup of cheddar and 1 1/4 cup of the fontina to the milk mixture. whisk until melted.
• in the same pot that you boiled the water in, combine the pasta, cheese-milk mixture, and the bacon. pour into prepared baking dish.
• top with the remaining 1/4 cup white cheddar. sprinkle with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. dot with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
• bake for 20 – 30 minutes or until slightly golden on top and bubbling. let sit for 5 minutes before devouring.
The Urban Baker / SusanSalzman.com